Welcome to Starfire.
Currently, this will be written in episodic form, with a new chapter whenever I have time, in theory on Fridays. Hopefully. I will also be working on developing the world for those interested. For now, enjoy the show!
The Depths are humanity's current home. A two mile deep underground metropolis, with a population numbering three million. After an accident at a research lab resulting in the deaths of all the researchers there and the destruction of the site itself along with all the information stored there, the Earth's electromagnetic field began to shrink and fail. Ambient radiation increased steadily, with certain areas losing protection first and becoming uninhabitable due to an unrelated but simultaneous increase in solar flares that had been increasing for the past 50 years. The governments of earth decided to place all funding into expanding the mines in South Africa, due to their incredible depths providing a baseline around which to construct habitats that would be unaffected by surface conditions, and the fact that they already have a substantial underground infrastructure. By the time the magnetic field fails completely, each of the eight mines has a population of ten thousand, with maglev trains under construction to act as transportation between them. As the years pass, the floors grow in size, the trains are established, connecting each of the eight mines into a rapidly growing city, while scientists develop a way of controlling the ambient radiation everyone is still being subjected to, though at lower doses. A small neural implant is developed that allows humans to bend and manipulate wavelengths on the EM spectrum, letting them perform acts that essentially qualify as magic, which allows for more efficient use of resources in a society with almost no space for growing food and other valuable resources.
The depths themselves currently are 4 kilometers deep, ruled over by a council of eight, composed of the seven gubernatorial families, each controlling one of the original mine shafts, and the presidential family, which controls the last and deepest mine, what used to be the Mponeng gold mine. Each of the gubernatorial families has a specific aura color related with it. This color is shown as a side effect whenever they use their neural implant to control the ambient radiation around them to construct buildings or regulate various other functions of the mines. The first family has a red aura, and controls temperature, manipulating the geothermal energy around the inhabitants so that they do not cook alive. With a little concentration, this can develop into control of fire itself. The second family has an orange aura, reflecting their graphene manipulating abilities, as they work on the creation and maintenance of structures and supports throughout the mines. On a smaller scale, they can form clothing, vehicles, and weapons. The third family has a yellow aura. They control the ventilation within the Depths, working with the first family to ensure the proper circulation of air throughout the metropolis. Manipulation of air also gives them the ability to fly, albeit with a wing suit. The fourth family glows green when using their abilities, manipulation of the earth around them. They usually are employed as construction workers alongside members of the second family, clearing away new areas for their compatriots to stabilize with graphene pillars. On a smaller scale, those with green auras are able to create small bunkers at a moment's notice should a sudden cave in occur. Members of the fifth family control water, caretakers of the various water reservoirs maintained throughout the depths. They ensure clean water, and the procurement of new water wherever it's lost. On smaller scales, they can freeze injuries until the unfortunate can be taken to a member of the sixth family, those with indigo auras that denote their healing abilities. They are doctors and physicians throughout the Depths, and are always treated well as a result. The last of the gubernatorial families is also the most powerful: the violets. They are able to control the minds of animals around them, but where their powers truly come into play is when they become powerful enough to manipulate the minds of humans around them. These abilities are heavily regulated, but the Violets maintain a powerful standing nonetheless, acting as the Depths' police force and farmers. The presidential family is easily the most powerful of the families, with a pure white aura, lighting up the more powerful like an artificial sun. Members of the presidential family are capable of matter-energy conversion on a small scale, although when a gram of matter can be turned into a nuclear bomb, there is no such thing as small. They are few and far between, universally feared and admired. Children with white auras are often taken into custody along with their parents, where they are taken care of and taught how to use their abilities where any explosions will be only dangerous, not lethal.
"Aura initialization complete."
I take a deep breath as I open my eyes, the world now filled with a slight violet tinge I will see for the rest of my life. It's my thirteenth birthday, and my Aura has finally been activated so that I can learn to use it effectively by the time I become an adult. There's a woman watching me with a clipboard in hand, ensuring that the initialization works properly, and that I don't experience an "adverse reaction." Meaning that if I die they can call in a squad to hide my body quickly so their precious record doesn't get tarnished.
The clipboard lady pushes a button on a console outside the capsule they put me in to activate my aura. The lid pops open, and I take a breath of the slightly less stale air inside the clinic, run through who knows how many air filters by this point. She stands in front of me, prodding various parts of my head, making sure there's nothing wrong, then says, "All right. I need you to flare your Aura for me now, okay?"
I nod in assent, closing my eyes and reaching within my mind to that foreign piece of technology inside my body, willing it under my control, making me the god of my little corner of the universe. As I open my eyes again, I see that the faint violet tinge from before has turned to a full-blown light show, the entire room suffused with a purple glow. I look over at her, she nods, and I let the Aura fade. As I do so, the women gestures for me to follow her, so I put on some slippers some unknown benefactor has kindly provided, and do so. After walking to the ground floor of the building, she brings me to a pet shop, with several cats, dogs, bearded dragons, and other more unusual creatures. A salesperson comes out from the back, looks at her, and without a word leads me into the pet shop.
"All right, let's get you a companion. You're part of the seventh family, of course."
"Yeah. I'm not sure who my dad is, exactly, but he's definitely in the seventh."
The man looks at me thoughtfully for a moment, then brings my attention to the various animals in the shop. "Is there any sort of character traits or animal you wanted in particular?"
"I didn't really think about it. How about that one, though?" I say, pointing to a white bearded dragon on the bottom layer of cages. He stares back at me, as if expecting an attack.
"Jay? He's a right bastard. You sure you want him?"
I crouch down to look at the lizard, carefully unlocking the cage and extending a hand to the lizard. He crawls cautiously over to me, nipping a finger lightly before climbing onto my arm.
"Yeah, I think I'll take him."
"All right, then. Let's give you a tour of the range."
"The practice room. Teach you how to use your Aura, control Jay, all that stuff."
We walk through the back door of the shop, into a strange mix between a firing range and a dojo. There's about thirty kids in total there, with a third at the firing range, dueling area, and practice nooks each.
"Welcome to the range. You'll come here after school for two hours for the next four years. After that, you Climb and see just how far you get."
"Yeah, I know. Can I start now?"
The man shook his head. "You'll be starting tomorrow, just to make sure that there aren't any negative effects. In the meantime, I want you to practice flipping your Aura on and off. Welcome to the Depths."